May 26, 2005

Sitting in a café.

I'm sitting in a café here in Madison, doing a little blogging, answering my email, listening to samba music, gazing out the window at the sunlit passersby. I ordered a large cappucino. It's a 20 ounce glass, and the barista filled it half way with espresso. I've drunk two-thirds of it, and I'd have to be crazy to drink more. Is it unfair to grade exams on that much coffee? But grade exams I must, just as soon as I finish this post.

Distinct pleasure of the day: I installed a new keyboard in my iBook this morning. The space bar had broken, even though the iBook is only a little over a year old. How long can a space bar -- which operates off a single, central point -- hold up to a keyboarder who always hits it off-center, with the right thumb? Oh, several million hits, I'm sure. Waiting for the keyboard to come in the mail, I kept using the old one, needing to hit the malfunctioning space bar extra-hard to get it to take. Now having it work easily feels lovely. And the spot where the thumb hits has a nice grainy texture. Before, it was worn shiny. And the little depression in the thumb spot was palpable.

Extremely mild irritation of the morning (heightened by my caffeination): a man orders a coffee drink made with soy milk. Unless you're allergic to milk or moralistically vegan, don't order soy milk! What are you doing? Soy is a bean -- or, really, a legume. Do you drink peanut milk? Lentil milk? There is no milk, not even juice in a soy bean. So what is this soy "milk"? It's some kind of water containing tiny bean particles. That's not aesthetically correct.

Settle down now. See those exams...

UPDATE: An emailer writes: "Hel-lo! Coffee! Cocoa! ... Water with bean particles makes my whole life better, dammit." Wait! Cocoa goes in milk. But still, I get the point. And what is milk anyway? Water with -- what? Why do I favor it solely because the water has been transformed inside an animal rather than suitably boiled and then mixed with a pure powder of human manufacture? Why do I want my liquids to be something that appear in their final form in the natural state? Every other liquid that emerges from the body of an animal is something we -- most of us -- hate to drink a glassful of. The wonder, then, is that we find cow's milk aesthetically pleasing.

18 comments:

DaveG said...

I.had.the.same.problem.with.my.Dell.keyboard. ..Still.waiting.for.the.new.one..

Ann Althouse said...

It took nearly a month to get mine. I was surprised how hard it is to buy such an ordinary item. Apple doesn't sell laptop replacement keyboards. I spent forever looking for it on their site and finally called and found out I have to go through a third party. I used the seller Apple recommended, which sent me the wrong keyboard first. How annoying!

phillywalker said...

It may not be aesthetically correct, but soy milk is delicious and has zero cholesterol (some people drink it for the lack of cholesterol alone). I actually prefer soy milk (original or plain, not vanilla-flavored) on cereal, and for drinking - just for the taste! You have to buy the right brand, though. I like 8th Continent. I think Slate featured a milk taste test a while ago (whole, 1%, 2%, soy, etc.). To their great surprise, in a blind taste test, many tasters preferred soy milk!!

Ann Althouse said...

Phillywalker: But I'm not blind. I can see that it's soy milk. It's some liquid, manufactured from a bean.

Ann Althouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LizrdGizrd said...

With coffee, though, it would be appropriate since you're drinking water with little bits of bean in it anyway. You'd just be having 2 different beans in one cup.

tommy said...

I'm not naturally a fan of soy milk, but a combination of lactose intolerance and a requirement to spend some time around other people has modified my behavior.

ronin1516 said...

Ann - cow's milk is an emulsion of various things. The guys at the Ag school at U-W ought to be able to explain it better that I can. I was a Economics major, that is my excuse.
But seriously Ann, you ought to give soy milk a try. I used to be like you, until I was forced to switch from cows milk due to health reasons.

chuck_b said...

I take my Cheerios w/ bananas, strawberries and chocoloate soy milk whenever I can. Yum!

And pain or vanilla soy milk w/ some yogurt and fruit well-blended in my classic Oster beehive blender... totally scumptious (sp?) and healthy.

You're right about the coffee tho... but I drink coffee and espresso black. Straight up. No foamy steamed milk. Certainly no soy milk. And no sugar.

Hoo ha!

Be said...

Lactose intolerance really has made the decision for me - soy milk or no milk. I need the calcium, so I drink the soy milk. Another added benefit is that, if I drink enough soy milk in a given month, I'm far less likely to hurt and want to bite people's heads off during that (ahem) special time.

Not that I'm a PETA member or anything like that, but the whole keeping the cow's body in an artificial state of thinking it needs to lactate kind of bothers me, too.

MrsWhatsit said...

Argh! I like soy milk myself, and I was doing fine with people's various reasons for drinking it until we got to the comment about the poor cows and their artificial lactation. I own dairy cows, and there is nothing artificial about their lactation. After a cow gives birth to a real, live, non-artificial calf, her body naturally produces milk as a result of natural hormones from her natural pregnancy. If she's properly fed she'll continue to lactate for quite some time after the birth. During that time period, somebody had better either milk her regularly or provide her with an extremely hungry calf, or she is going to be in a lot of severe, thoroughly non-artificial pain. There is no way to get a cow to lactate artificially. How desperate can people get to come up with reasons to feel guilty about their food?

Muckish said...

I can't speak for be, but I think the argument is not that the lactation is artificial, but that means such as artificial insemination are used to increase the reproductive rate and consequent milk production of cows. Visit http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-06242003-071849/unrestricted/final1.pdf to read a master's thesis on this subject.

Dad said...

OH my god. Artificial insemination is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT than reproduction when a bull is involved, with the exception of the lack of a penis. It in no way increases the reproductive rate, whatever that is, of dairy cows. The study which you cite is about the artificial INDUCTION OF LACTATION with hormones in dairy cows that will NOT breed by artificial insemination or insemination by a bull, hence the term non-breeders. It is ALMOST NEVER done, as it is expensive and complicated and results are mixed at best. You really should try reading and understanding before you perpetuate false understandings.

Muckish said...

My point is that cows left to themselves may choose not to visit the sperm bank. As for the thesis I cited, I can see the confusion caused by the lack of a transition in my post -- that was intended to speak to the general subject of artificial instigation of milk production, which MrsWhatsit had stated is impossible.

Joan said...

I caution anyone who isn't interested in getting a nice dose of estrogen to go easy on the soy products, including soy milk. One serving a day and you should be Ok, but more than that and you're giving yourself an untitrated hormone treatment.

Rice milk and almond milk (neither of which are "milk" either) are very tasty non-dairy substitutes, as is coconut milk. None of these have those phytoestrogens which can be so helpful to some but not others. Think two or three times before giving soy milk to little boys!

Joe said...

To those who dig the soy juice, dig in, I say. But t'aint milk. Might be milk-y, but so was that puddle in Tijuana that I slipped in a few years back.

Just need a new name for it, that's all.

Kev said...

On a now-somewhat-unrelated subject (but one prompted by the original post), I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only professor who grades exams in a coffeehouse (at least I assumed that was to be your next task after you did this post). I don't always teach classes that require written tests, but when I do, nothing beats commandeering a big table at a Starbucks and grading and sipping away.

Cattivo Nome said...

"Do you drink peanut milk? Lentil milk? There is no milk, not even juice in a soy bean. So what is this soy "milk"? It's some kind of water containing tiny bean particles. That's not aesthetically correct."

Yes, I do use lentil milk! Pumped through a home soymilk machine (without soybeans, thank you) it makes a wonderful thick cafe colored milk that sets to a spoonlicious pudding in the fridge. Blend in some bananas, chocolate syrup and a teaspoon of vanilla for satisfying natural non-fat chocolate pudding. Ferment with any yogurt culture for the best veggie yogurt, cheap and wonderful. Unlike soy yogurt requires no thickeners, stabilizers or setting agents! Naturally non-fat, low-sugar and sodium, non-soy, cholesterol and animal free, vegan and pareve; it contains protein, complex carbs a ton of iron and plant fiber for scrubbing the gut that no animal milk has. It costs less than a nickel to make and eat a huge dishful, 300+ grams for 100 kcal. What a wonderful comfort food! Lentils are even mentioned in the Bible; Esau sold Jacob his birthright to get them and who's to say he didn't have a point? Why yes I am an ethical and health-minded AND economically minded vegetarian, thank you. It's the thing to do. My aesthetics disagree with yours. (Pease, as we said in the day...;)